Self-Publishing News: 1.22.2019

January, illustrated name of calendar month, illustration

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Not to start us off on a negative note or anything, but this article from the Wall Street Journal last week by contributor Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg hits hard and doesn’t let up. As we’re all probably pretty well aware by now, Amazon has made bookselling (print and digital) as well as distribution at large a cornerstone of its commercial success, and their farsighted planning a decade ago are paying major dividends now, in the late 2010s. Fascinatingly, Trachtenberg uses the story of Mark Sullivan (author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky, a huge hit from 2017–and published by Amazon rather than one of the Big Five traditional publishing houses) to navigate the company’s long story of evolution from small tech start-up to a major force to be reckoned with, in book sales as well as everything else–including customer data points, which the company harvests in bulk. A complex and nuanced take on publishing in the age of Amazon, we highly recommend taking a look at this article–which also appeared in the WSJ’s January 17 print edition under the title ‘Amazon Rewrites Publishing By Pushing Its Own Books.”

One of the keen advantages that self-publishing has over the traditional model is its speed of turnaround and the general rapidity of the process. David Sharp of the AP, syndicated in this week’s Idaho Statesman, covers the posthumous publication of Dead Poets Society of America founder Walter Skold’s poetry collection, The Mirror is Not Cracked. Skold, who passed away in January of 2018, took his children on some of his many road trips to visit the grave sites of more than 300 great poets, and amassed a body of his own poems as well–the basis for the book. His children then elected to publish those poems in print to honor his memory, and elected to self-publish so as to release the book on the anniversary of Skold’s passing. Writes Sharp, “He launched the Dead Poets Society in 2008 in Freeport, Maine, drawing inspiration for the name from the 1989 Robin Williams movie. […] While alive, Walter Skold hatched the idea of creating a new holiday, National Poets Remembrance Day, on the Sunday closest to Oct. 7, the date Edgar Allan Poe died. He viewed it as a day to celebrate all poets, including those who have died.” Now that he’s passed on, his children and those who also lived to celebrate the poets are able to commemorate his life and love of words through the self-published tome–and those who are hearing about him for the first time can take part in the society he helped to found.

If you’ve spent much time in the world of comics lately, you’ll know that there’s a new force to be reckoned with in the land of superheroes (and more): Kickstarter. This article, courtesy of Forbes contributor Rob Salkowitz, dives into the decline of direct comic distribution (think of Diamond) and the rise of Kickstarter-funded projects as an alternative to the big publishing houses, including Marvel and DC. “Comic projects got funded at a nearly 70% success rate,” writes Salkowitz, “indicating that creators are doing a better job than ever finding their audience and mobilizing fans to support crowdfunded work.” But it’s not all clear skies and easy sailing, Salkowitz notes: Kickstarter projects are underrepresented by traditional comic promotional avenues such as the touted Previews catalog so familiar to comic lovers. Writes Salkowitz, the publishing system “has always rested on the weakest points: hard-pressed creators who struggle to make ends meet during the long lead times to write, draw, package and distribute their work, and the uncoordinated network of small, local businesses that connect comics to customers. Both are resilient beyond all reasonable expectation, able to survive through market conditions that would kill most other kinds of businesses. But that resilience is not without limits, and if the trends of 2018 continue, those limits will surely be tested this year.” Keep that in mind as you pick out your next selection at the comic book store!


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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